Article 357 of Egypt’s Penal Code imposes jail time of six months or less or a fine of under LE200 for anyone found to have intentionally killed a domesticated animal, according to lawyer Khaled Mohamed.
Stray dogs and other animals are common throughout Egypt and can usually be seen digging through garbage or trotting along city streets. Regarded by many as a nuisance, public health issue, or even dangerous, some individuals have taken the matter into their own hands, poisoning stray animals or harming them in other ways – a trend the law seeks to address, according to Egyptian newspaper Youm7.
Mohamed clarified that the article applies to dogs, cats, poultry, and other types of domesticated animals, as well as wild animals that have been trained or live in captivity, like big cats and types of birds.
For his part, Mahmoud Shalaby, the Fatwa Secretary of Egypt’s Dar al-Iftaa, a government Islamic educational institute, also said that killing stray dogs is not permissible, stressing that Islam does not sanction harming animals in this way.
Shalaby added that it is not permissible to kill stray dogs or other animals unless they represent a direct threat to human beings, adding that any danger associated with stray animals should be dealt with via a complainant to Egyptian authorities.
Al-Azhar explained the rule against killing stray dogs, noting that the Shariah, or Islamic law, understands animals’ relationship with people in a realistic way, whether based on their importance in sustaining life or other benefits to humans. The Holy Qur’an, it said, asks human beings to honor animals, and does not sanction causing them unnecessary harm.
“The fundamental principle is (showing) charity towards animals, and therefore it is not permissible to kill dogs or other stray animals except if they pose a threat (to people), such as if they threaten the security of local communities and the safety of citizens,” Al-Azhar noted.
It went on to explain that the killing of animals should be done in a way that does not include unnecessary harm or torture, “provided that (putting an animal down) is the only way to stop the threat (it poses to human beings).”
In November, Al-Masry Al-Youm reported that citizens in the Egyptian resort town of Hurghada had been complaining about attacks from stray dogs involving women, the elderly and schoolchildren, a phenomenon that some officials at the time said could threaten tourism in the Red Sea Governorate.
Ibrahim Abu Ali, a lawyer in Safaga, said that an Italian tourist, 55, and a German tourist, 40, filed two claims with police stations in Safaga after being bitten by stray dogs.
The issue left officials stumped at how to control the stray dog population, especially considering foreign-led animal welfare societies and rights groups oppose the use of violence to get rid of stray dogs.
According to a report from Ahram Online, Egypt’s agriculture Ministry reported approximately 400,000 cases of dog bites in 2017, a 100,000 increase compared with numbers in 2014. Moreover, 231 people have died in the last four years from complications related to dog bites.
Most of the deaths were caused by rabies.
Around 60 people die each year from rabies in Egypt, which is incurable if not detected early, according to statistics provided by the World Health Organization in 2017.